Saturday, February 6, 2021

Montana House bill makes it harder to become an adult’s legal guardian

By James Bradley

HELENA — Lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee advanced a bill Thursday that would force a person applying to become an adult’s legal guardian to explain to a court why a less intrusive option wouldn’t work. 

Sen. Mary McNally, D-Billings, is the bill’s sponsor. She explained how guardianship works during the hearing on Senate Bill 31, saying guardianship proceedings are the process where a person gives up their civil and constitutional rights, effectively becoming a minor in the eyes of the law. It is a last resort for aging adults or young adults who would be unable to take care of themselves in any capacity. 

Guardians have control over every aspect of their dependent’s life.

Adrianne Cotton spoke in favor of the bill on behalf of the Montana Area Agencies on Aging Association. She explained the history of adult guardianship laws, which she said existed in the Roman Empire. She said since then, guardianship laws have shifted and changed constantly.

“It bears noting that our communities still struggle, after 1,500 years, to find a balance between protecting those who cannot protect themselves, and ensuring the state does not empower bad actors who capitalize on a weakened system, and a vulnerable population,” Cotton said.

Guardianship laws have not changed in the state of Montana for 30 years.

The bill drew widespread support from independent living centers and elder advocacy groups. Beth Brenneman is an attorney with Disability Rights Montana, and urged the committee to pas the bill.

“We should really require that the person petitioning and the judge look at whether or not there are other alternatives,” Brenneman said.

There were no opponents. 

The committee voted unanimously to pass the bill to the full House, where it will face at least two more votes before going to Governor Greg Gianforte’s desk. Rep. Dennis Lenz, R-Billings, will carry the bill on the house floor. 

James Bradley is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

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Wisconsin bills would allow banks to intervene in suspected financial exploitation

Southwest Wisconsin lawmakers are backing two bills that would enhance safeguards to protect at-risk older adults from financial exploitation.

The proposals would enable financial service providers, brokers and investment advisors to delay or deny transactions or disbursements if the provider suspects exploitation of a vulnerable adult or an adult age 60 or older.

“Right now, they are really good at spotting the fraud, but there is nothing they can do about it,” said state Rep. Travis Tranel, R-Cuba City, who is a cosponsor on both bills.

State Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, has also signed onto the bills.

Financial exploitation includes attempts to obtain money or property through deception or coercion, along with crimes such as theft and forgery.

Currently, state statute directs county elder or social service agencies to investigate reports of elder abuse, including financial crimes, but such investigations can take up to 60 days.

Often, the perpetrator lives in a different county, which necessitates collaboration with another agency, said Fred Naatz, director of Grant County Social Services.

“Probably the vast majority of (cases) are somebody that is close to the person, taking advantage of them — getting their name put on a checking or savings account,” he said. “We occasionally get some that are scams.”

In the interim, banks cannot delay transactions, which can lead to irretrievable losses.

Naatz’s department does not track financial exploitation specifically, but most of the crimes it reports to the state concern financial matters or self-neglect. In 2019 — the most recent year for available data — the department filed 70 reports concerning elders.

Current state statute does not permit bank staff to contact family members, attorneys or law enforcement when suspecting a transaction is occurring under exploitive circumstances.

The bill “would give us an opportunity to get involved to approve that transaction,” said Donna Hoppenjan, president and CEO at Mound City Bank in Platteville. “It would pause that transaction. It doesn’t freeze their account.”

The delay or refusal could last for up to five business days unless terminated or extended by a court order.

Naatz said a temporary hold could be useful but might inconvenience older adults who are making informed and intentional decisions concerning their money.

“We can’t create a perfect system,” he said.

The proposal also would impose stiffer sentences to existing securities crimes committed against vulnerable adults.

Both bills garnered bipartisan support and have been referred to legislative committees for review.

“This is the kind of issue that doesn’t just apply to southwest Wisconsin,” Marklein said. “I think it’s a reasonable solution to a problem.”

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Palmer man sentenced to 24 Months for wire fraud

By Jacob Mann

WASILLA — Faunus Michael Doney, 37, of Palmer, was sentenced to serve two years for committing wire fraud.

United States District Court Judge Joshua M. Kindred sentenced Doney to serve 24 months in prison with three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to wire fraud on Sept. 22, 2020, according to a recent press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Anchorage.

Doney was also ordered to pay over $377,000 in restitution to the victims of his fraudulent scheme that defrauded three victims from August 2018 to at least June 2019, according to the press release.

Doney was a licensed insurance broker in Alaska and worked for a life insurance and annuity company based in Iowa. He was was responsible for marketing life insurance and annuities to new and existing clients in Alaska. Many of these clients were elderly and purchased those products to secure income in retirement or for estate planning.

Doney made his way across the state hosting seminars that were setup to lure elderly Alaskans into investing in his products. He convinced the three identified victims to invest much of their retirement savings with him with the promise of substantial and guaranteed returns.

There were no investments. Doney just redirected the victims’ funds to his personal and business accounts, conjuring up fake balance sheets, account statements, and other doctored evidence and to allay his victims’ concerns.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Klugman served as the prosecutor for Doney’s case. The IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI conducted the investigation with additional assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the State of Alaska Division of Insurance. Their combined efforts eventually led to a successful prosecution.

According to the press release, Kindred stated that he hoped Doney’s sentence would “send a message to Doney and others that fraudulent conduct on this scale will be met with serious consequences.”

The press release also indicated that combating elder abuse and financial fraud targeted at seniors is one of the Department of Justice’s key priorities.

Physical abuse, financial fraud, scams and exploitation, caregiver neglect and abandonment, psychological abuse, and sexual abuse are the five subtypes of elder abuse. Elder abuse is said to affect at least 10 percent of senior citizens across the country each year.

To learn more about the Elder Abuse Financial Exploitation Resources, visit

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Friday, February 5, 2021

Lest We Forget, Conservatees Have Personal Rights

by Weintraub Tobin

Conservatorship proceedings are commenced for a variety of reasons, but the most common circumstance is when an elderly person requires assistance, either with their medical care, or their financial affairs, or both, and that individual does not have an alternative in place which would eliminate the need for a conservatorship.

The establishment of a conservatorship does not deprive a conservatee of all of their personal and legal rights.  Unless the court makes a specific determination otherwise, a conservatee retains the legal right to marry or to enter into a domestic partnership (Prob. Code, § 1900); to make a will (Prob. Code, § 1871(c)); to vote (Prob. Code, § 1910); and to make medical decisions (Prob. Code, § 2354(a)).

One of the legal rights often overlooked by a conservator is that the conservatee retains a number of specific personal rights.  Under Probate Code section 2351, a conservator has the care, custody, and control of the conservatee.  What does that entail?  The following aspects of a conservatee’s personal affairs are specifically identified as not being within the control of the conservator:  the right to receive visitors, telephone calls, and personal mail.  If a conservator wants to control those aspects of a conservatee’s personal life, a court order specifically granting such control to the conservator is required.

Yes, that’s right.  Absent a court order, a conservator has no authority to determine what visitors the conservatee may receive, who may have telephone calls with the conservatee, and what mail personal mail may be received by the conservatee.  Oftentimes, especially in the case of conservatorships involving significant family conflict, a conservator, even those who are licensed by the State of California as a licensed professional fiduciary, will arbitrarily make these decisions “on behalf of” the conservatee.  A conservator who is a sibling might say, “You can’t see Mom!” or “You can only call Dad between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Sundays!” Greeting cards from the disfavored family member that are intended for the conservatee mysteriously disappear.

Unless a conservator has a specific order allowing the conservator to make such personal decisions on behalf of the conservatee, it is the conservatee who continues to have the right to determine what visitors, phone calls, and mail he or she shall receive.

These personal rights were recently considered by the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Conservatorship of Navarrete, 2020 Cal.App.LEXIS 1211.  In Navarrete, the mother and older brother of a 33-year old woman with cerebral palsy filed competing petitions seeking appointment as conservator of the person. As the court commented, “Lurking behind this dispute…” was an accusation that the proposed conservatee’s father had sexually assaulted and raped her, and that she feared her father.  The court ultimately appointed mother as conservator of the person and, after further hearings, granted the father visitation and ordered joint counseling between father and the conservatee.  The conservatee, her attorney, and mother all objected to the court-ordered visitation and counseling.

The trial court stated that, in ordering visitation, its job was to make an assessment from the standpoint of what would be in the conservatee’s best interest.  The trial judge commented that, if his adult son told him he never wanted to see him again, it would be “too horrible to imagine, but he would have the right to say so.”  The trial judge admitted that he could not conclude whether the sexual abuse had actually taken place, but also expressed concern about efforts of mother to alienate father from the conservatee.

Conservatee appealed the visitation order arguing that the court exceeded its authority in ordering her to attend joint therapy sessions with her father, that such order violated her state and federal constitutional rights, and that, even if the visitation order was permissible, the trial court abused its discretion to determine forced visitation was in her best interest.

The appellate court reviewed Probate Code section 2351 addressing a conservatee’s personal rights and stated that such rights were so important that the Legislature gave the court the power to intervene to ensure that a conservatee may exercise them. The court stated that, if the conservator was interfering with the conservatee’s decision to receive visitors, the court may order the conservator to “stand aside” and let the conservatee make the decision for themselves.  Such determination is to be made based on what is in the conservatee’s best interest.

The appellate court acknowledged that the Navarrete case did not fit squarely into the provisions of Probate Code section 2351 in that the case involved a court order requiring the conservatee to receive a visitor against the conservatee’s express will. The court commented upon the court’s involvement in visitation between a minor child and a parent, and that there was no case under the Probate Code involving forced visitation between an adult child and a parent.  The court stated that an adult’s disability does not put them in the legal position of a minor.  The appellate court also noted that, in the context of family law orders, the family court did not retain the right to order visitation between adult disabled children and their parent, stating that visitation is a form of “custody” and, under the Family Code, the court’s authority did not extend to a child who had reached the age of majority.  The appellate court determined that, because the conservatee was an adult, notwithstanding her disability, the trial court overstepped its role by intervening in the dispute between the conservatee and her father based on the court’s own judgment as to the conservatee’s best interest. Because the appellate court determined that the court exceeded its authority in ordering forced visitation, it did not reach the other questions on appeal.

It is all too easy for a conservator to substitute his or her determination for that of a conservatee as to what visitors a conservatee may receive, who may telephone, and what mail may be distributed.  The conservator may believe that these personal rights are not as important as the right to marry, make a will, or make medical decisions.  As to those latter rights, a conservator will bring to the court’s attention by the appropriate petition any concerns about the conservatee’s ability to make such decisions.  But, personal rights are very important as they most impact a conservatee’s daily life.  A conservatee may express that he or she wishes to receive a certain visitor and the conservator may disagree that such a visit is appropriate.  If that is the case, the conservator’s authority does not extend to prohibiting visits from that individual.  The conservator who does so exceeds his or her statutory authority.  Instead, the course of action open to the conservator is to petition the court for specific orders relating to the conservatee’s personal rights and whether the court should intervene in the exercise of those rights.

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Judge Places Thomas Girardi Under Conservatorship as RHOBH Attorney May Move Into Care Facility After “Medical” Emergency

By Lindsay Cronin

Thomas Girardi, the husband of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast member Erika Jayne, has just been placed under a temporary conservatorship amid a possible move in the near future into a facility that treats neurocognitive disorders.
According to a series of new reports, Los Angeles Superior Judge Daniel Juarez granted a petition filed by Robert Girardi, the brother of the 81-year-old attorney, on Monday, and he named a temporary conservator for Thomas.
On February 1, The Blast revealed Robert would serve as Thomas’ temporary conservator and confirmed that because of his alleged medical issues, Thomas was not present at the hearing.

In a report written by Thomas’ court-appointed lawyer, Rudy Cosio, it was said “that Thomas could not fully comprehend the nature of the proceedings although he did state that he had no objections to Robert taking care of him the limited purpose of executing contracts on his behalf. Thomas voiced his concern of having a media circus at the hearing.”

“He indicated that he wanted to continue the matter for thirty days as 10 identified the petitioner and reviewed the petition with him,” the lawyer continued, adding that Thomas was “currently having tests performed to diagnose any memory issues.”
Weeks ago, Robert filed a petition to be named as Thomas’ conservator, claiming the attorney, who was recently forced into bankruptcy, was unable to take care of himself and experiencing memory loss.

While Robert claimed Thomas is unable to perform his day-to-day functions without assistance, Thomas’ many creditors have questioned whether he’s truly experiencing memory loss and made it clear that they find the timing of his supposed struggles convenient.
According to a second report from Us Weekly, the conservatorship is set to expire on March 30 with an additional hearing set to take place on March 15.
During the upcoming hearing, the court will discuss a number of other requests made in Robert’s petition for conservatorship, including his petition to be given the authority to put Tom in a facility that treats neurocognitive disorders.
Late last year, one of Thomas’ firm’s attorneys claimed in court that the RHOBH attorney was “unavailable… due to a serious illness that caused him to be hospitalized for which he sought treatment.”

The exact illness has yet to be revealed. 

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Pa. wife charged with causing death of husband with dementia

By John Beauge

SHAMOKIN -- A Northumberland County woman has been accused of causing through neglect the death of her husband, who suffered from dementia.

Debora Avelino, 57, of Ranshaw, was charged Tuesday by Coal Twp. police with involuntary manslaughter and neglect in the Nov. 2 death of Vincent Avelino, 83.

The investigation of potential elder abuse began after Avelino was taken to Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital on Oct. 20 with a Stage 4 pressure ulcer on his buttocks that was down to the bone.

The extent of the infected wound, which required an emergency colonoscopy and specialized care, indicated Avelino likely was in the same position for a month, police said they were told by medical personnel.

His primary care physician who had last seen him in person in May told investigators Avelino could not care for himself or make decisions because of the advanced stage of dementia.

Avelino was flown to the Geisinger Medical Center near Danville, on Oct. 26 because he had become unresponsive.

Four days later county Judge Hugh Jones granted the request of the Area Agency on Agency and appointed Senior Care of Pennsylvania as guardian for Avelino.

His son, Vincent Jr., claimed the thing on his father’s butt “came out of blue” and his mother decided he should go to the hospital, the arrest affidavit states.

He also told investigators his father had been wearing adult diapers for a few years and that he would help him bathe, dress and get up to go the bathroom, the document states.

A doctor and two registered nurses are quoted in the arrest documents as saying the huge bed sore was the result of Avelino not walking or moving on his own for quite a while, not the three or four days claimed by the wife.

It was the opinion of Dr. Christopher Exner at Shamokin hospital that had Avelino received proper care sooner the wound could have been prevented, the affidavit states.

Avelino also had two thoracic spine wounds, multiple abrasions in various stages of healing from the knees to the shins and redness in the left ankle, the charges state.

Police described the interior of the home as a mess with the kitchen sink full of dirty dishes and hardly space to go from room to room. No beds were observed, they said.

Debora Avelino claimed her husband slept in his chair and she in another chair in the living room and that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic they would go for walks and to yard sales, the affidavit states.

Debora Avelino, who was employed as a home health aide, was jailed in lieu of $20,000 bail.

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Thursday, February 4, 2021

A Family History of the Smiths & Alexanders

By: Tiffany Bentley & Ann Hetherwick Cahill

Welcome to the story of the Smiths and the Alexanders — made-up people with a wild accumulation of fictional (but factual) circumstances that raise all kinds of probate and fiduciary litigation issues. What potential problems do you spot here? What are the arguments to be made on all of these contentious issues? Stay tuned to Beyond the Will throughout November and December as we dig deep into this family’s saga.

Johnny Smith and Jocelyn Smith were married in 1983 in Massachusetts. They had two children, Randall Smith (born January 1, 1985) and Twyla Smith (born March 3, 1987). Unfortunately, Jocelyn died in a tragic car accident in 1995 with no estate plan in place.

At the time of her death, Jocelyn had a gross estate of approximately $5,000,000 consisting primarily of individually held investments that she had inherited from her parents. She also had a few minor accounts held jointly with Johnny but no retirement accounts or life insurance policies.

Johnny began dating Moira Alexander in 2000. Moira had two children of her own, Alexis Alexander (born February 5, 1985) and David Alexander (born October 8, 1989).

In 2005, Moira, Alexis, and David moved into the Smith home with Johnny, Randall, and Twyla. They appeared to have minimal issues as far as blended families go. Their children got along and each accepted the other adult as a parental figure. As the children graduated and moved out of the family home, they remained in frequent contact with both Moira and Johnny and returned home for holiday and birthday celebrations.

Moira and Johnny met with an estate planning attorney, Attorney Mullens, in March of 2013 in order to have estate planning documents prepared including wills, revocable trusts, health care proxies, durable powers of attorney, and HIPPA waivers. Moira and Johnny were planning on eloping the following month and thus told Attorney Mullens that they were already married.

Attorney Mullens prepared estate planning documents for each of Johnny and Moira. Each will stated that the testator was married and left tangible items to the surviving spouse and otherwise to the surviving children in equal shares. Children under both wills were defined to include Randall, Twyla, Alexis, and David. The residue under Johnny’s will poured over to The Johnny Smith Trust. The residue under Moira’s will poured over to The Moira Alexander Trust. Moira was named as Personal Representative under Johnny’s will followed by Randall as a successor. Johnny was named as Personal Representative under Moira’s will with Alexis named as successor. Through Johnny’s will, he exercised a limited power of appointment that had been granted to him in a Family Trust established by his parents, directing that income from that trust be paid to his spouse, Moira, for her lifetime. That trust, by its terms, would terminate upon the last to die of Johnny and his four siblings, at which time the remaining principal would distribute outright to the issue of Johnny and his siblings by right of representation.

Johnny was the Donor and Trustee of The Johnny Smith Trust. Johnny was the beneficiary of The Johnny Smith Trust during his lifetime. After his passing, the Trust was structured to minimize potential Massachusetts and Federal estate tax while providing for Moira’s sole benefit during her lifetime. After Moira’s death, any remaining assets would divide into equal shares and would be distributed outright to each of Randall, Twyla, Alexis, and David. Moira and Attorney Mullens would serve as successor Trustees after Johnny’s death. After Moira’s death Attorney Mullens (or another attorney from his firm) would serve as sole Trustee.

The provisions of The Moira Alexander Trust mirrored those of Johnny’s Trust. Moira was the Donor and Trustee of her Trust and the beneficiary during her lifetime. After her passing, the Trust would minimize potential estate taxes while providing for Johnny during his lifetime (if Johnny survived) and otherwise the assets would be divided into equal shares and distributed outright to all four of the children. If Johnny survived, he would serve as a Trustee along with Attorney Mullens (or another attorney from the law firm).

Finally, Moira was named as agent under Johnny’s health care proxy and durable power of attorney, followed by Randall. Johnny was named as agent under Moira’s health care proxy and durable power of attorney, followed by Alexis.

Moira and Johnny signed their wills and trusts in early April of 2013. Although Attorney Mullens encouraged them to sign all of their documents, Johnny and Moira neglected to sign their health care proxies and durable powers of attorney. They wanted to give more consideration as to whether they wanted a child to serve as a co-attorney-in-fact with the other spouse under the durable powers of attorney, and whether they wanted language concerning the life-sustaining treatment in their health care proxies.

Moira and Johnny postponed their plans to elope after Moira, a doctor, had worked long hours caring for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Unfortunately, Johnny began exhibiting signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s in late 2017. His health deteriorated rapidly and by mid-2018 Johnny was unable to function independently. Moira cared for Johnny to the extent possible at their home and hired an in-home nurse to assist as necessary.

That holiday season, Randall gave Twyla one of the newly-released ancestry testing kits hoping that it might shed some light on their father’s disease and their potential risks down the road. Twyla took and submitted the ancestry test, set up an online profile and ultimately forgot about it with everything else that was going on in her life.

In February of 2019, Twyla decided to surprise Moira and Johnny and made an unplanned visit to her childhood home while in town for a bridal shower. Twyla became concerned when she saw a brand new Mercedes SUV sitting in the driveway. Twyla inquired and Moira explained that it was a “gift” and not to ask so many questions. Twyla mentioned this to Randall who at the time was roommates with David. He noted that David, an avid baker, had recently come home with a brand new collection of Le Creuset cookware. Randall hadn’t given this much thought but after his conversation with Twyla wondered how David, a struggling artist, could afford to spend that much money on items that simply supported a hobby.

Randall and Twyla became more concerned with how they believed Moira was spending Johnny’s money. After Moira avoided their questions multiple times, Randall and Twyla sought the advice of their own attorney, Attorney Budd. Attorney Budd advised that they could petition the court to have an independent conservator appointed to handle Johnny’s finances. After filing a petition, and over Moira’s objection, the court-appointed an independent conservator and independent guardian for Johnny.

The relationship Randall and Twyla had with Moira and her children continued to deteriorate as their father’s health grew worse. After one particularly difficult evening in February of 2020, Johnny had to be rushed to the emergency room after he was completely unresponsive and had labored breathing. The doctors advised that he likely had only a few hours to live unless he was placed on life support. Moira believed that Johnny did not want life-sustaining treatment and advised the doctors to give him medicine to simply make him comfortable. When Randall arrived he demanded that the doctors put his father on life-support. Unfortunately, before any decision could be made, Johnny passed away.

Johnny died with a gross estate of $7,000,000 consisting of his Massachusetts residence and a variety of investment and bank accounts titled in his name, individually, a bank account with approximately $75,000 held jointly with Moira, a life insurance policy payable to his Trust with a death benefit of $500,000 and a 401k account in which Moira was named the primary beneficiary followed by the four children equally as contingent beneficiaries.

Moira turned to Attorney Mullens to probate Johnny’s estate and prepare any necessary tax filings. Attorney Mullens was shocked to discover that despite what he had been told and what was provided in their wills, Moira and Johnny had never actually married. Attorney Mullens filed a Petition in Probate Court to have Moira appointed Personal Representative of Johnny’s Estate. Both Randall and Twyla filed objections. In addition, Randall and Twyla engaged Attorney Budd to present an argument that all provisions for Moira under the will and trust should be disregarded given the fact that she was not actually their father’s spouse, that their father’s tangible items should be distributed in equal shares to them, and that the remainder of their father’s estate should pass outright to the two of them (to the exclusion of Alexis and David).

This argument enraged Moira and she engaged a new estate planning attorney, Attorney Brewer, to prepare a new estate plan with the intent to disinherit Randall and Twyla. Moira’s new will provided for tangible items to be divided equally between her children, Alexis and David. Moira amended and restated The Moira Alexander Trust and provided that after her death, all assets would be divided into equal shares and distributed outright to Alexis and David.

Meanwhile, Attorney Mullens was working to prepare the Massachusetts Estate Tax Return for Johnny’s Estate. He wished to utilize the tax planning methods that had been provided for through Johnny’s will and trust and take advantage of the spousal deduction that could be taken on any assets that passed to Moira as the surviving spouse either outright or as held under Johnny’s trust for her benefit during her lifetime.

Around the same time, Stevie Jenkins, a young woman living in Colorado, contacted Twyla after her own ancestry test results indicated that she and Twyla could be half-sisters, sharing Johnny’s genetic profile. Twyla, although shocked at the discovery, was interested in getting to know Stevie but was concerned about whether Stevie might have any rights to Johnny’s assets under his own estate plan or under the Family Trust that Johnny’s parents had established.

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Financial Exploitation and the Authority of a Conservator

Ann Hetherwick Cahill

To best enjoy this post, please be sure to first read A Family History of the Smiths & Alexanders.

In this last discussion of the Smith and Alexander families, we examine financial exploitation, its impact on suitability in appointing a conservator, and steps that a conservator can take if there is evidence of prior financial exploitation. As background, Johnny developed Alzheimer’s, and Moira cared for Johnny at their home, with the help of an in-home nurse. When Randall and Twyla were concerned with how Moira was spending their father’s money, they appropriately filed for a conservatorship. Randall and Twyla asked for an independent conservator to be appointed over Johnny, to which the court agreed, despite Moira’s objection.

Moira likely objected because she wanted to be appointed as conservator over Johnny. Remember that Johnny and Moira never signed the health care proxies and durable power of attorneys prepared by Attorney Mullens (they did sign their Wills and Trust). Johnny’s health care proxy and durable power of attorney named Moira as the agent, followed by Randall. Had Johnny signed his durable power of attorney, Moira would have had top priority for consideration for the appointment as conservator under the governing statute. Otherwise, she lacks any priority for the appointment. Moira might still argue that the unsigned durable power of attorney evidences Johnny’s intent for her to serve as conservator. That would be a tough argument, though, given that Johnny never actually signed the durable power of attorney, and he was still thinking about whether he wanted to name one of his children to serve as co-attorney-in-fact with Moira.

Importantly, the court would likely not appoint Moira as conservator for Johnny because she is unsuitable to serve in such a fiduciary position. Based on the facts, it seems like the conservator need arose out of Moira’s lavish spending of Johnny’s money. The governing statute ensures that lack of qualification or lack of good cause overrides any person’s priority for the appointment. Here, with Moira’s history of using Johnny’s assets, there is a solid argument that she should not be appointed.

With a neutral conservator in place, the conservator is protecting Johnny from future exploitation and standing in Johnny’s shoes to pursue any necessary investigation and/or claim against Moira or any other wrongdoer. A conservator is explicitly empowered to “commence, prosecute or defend actions, claims, or proceedings in any jurisdiction for the protection of estate assets,” pursuant to M.G.L. c. 190B, § 5-423(c)(26). Once appointed, the conservator likely learned from Randall and Twyla of their concerns about Moira’s spending. Then the conservator has the power to review bank account statements, hire counsel, and file any claim to recover any assets if necessary. As shown by Moira, often, the fight over a person or estate stems from wanting to remain in control and to limit someone’s own potential liability for bad acts.

If you have concerns about the financial exploitation of a loved one, you should consult with a skilled attorney who specializes in this area of the law.

Until next time!

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‘It’s almost like he slept through the whole pandemic’: Teen in coma for 10 months wakes up

NEXSTAR) – A British teenager who has been in a coma for the past ten months has just woken up, according to local reporting from the United Kingdom. 

Joseph Flavill, 19, was in a serious car accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury on March 1 of last year — before much of the world locked down to the COVID-19 pandemic, Staffordshire Live first reported. When Flavill awoke nearly 11 months later, the teen had no knowledge of the pandemic.

“It’s almost like he slept through the whole pandemic,” his aunt, Sally Flavill-Smith, told Staffordshire Live.

Flavill caught COVID twice while in the hospital, once while in a coma and a second time while awake, though he recovered each time. 

“When he comes out of this, life will not be as he knows it at all,” another aunt, Kate Yarbo, told CNN. “How do you describe it? I think it’s going to be a shock. We’re all still processing it — I’m not sure you can actually ever describe how this pandemic feels.”

Since awaking, Flavill’s “progress has been rapid,” according to CNN. Though he can’t yet speak clearly, he’s beginning to gain control of his limbs and is starting to laugh at jokes.

“We are also very excited to report that Joseph has started to emerge slowly from his stage-two coma, and is beginning to respond to simple commands and stimulation,” the family wrote on the teen’s recovery website, Joseph’s Journey.

They have raised nearly $40,000 to help with costs associated with Flavill’s care after he leaves the hospital.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Las Vegas senior facility owner charged with abusing residents

By Sabrina Schnur

The owner and an employee of a Las Vegas senior facility were arrested on elderly abuse charges this month.

Ravette Taylor and Richard Cisneros, who were arrested Jan. 20, are each charged with seven counts of abuse of an older or vulnerable person, according to court records.

A certified nurse’s assistant who previously worked at “The Ohana Independent Living Home” called police Jan. 13 to report two elderly women were being sexually abused, beaten and overmedicated at the senior care facility, according to an arrest report from the Metropolitan Police Department.

Police found eight residents, including a man suffering from Parkinson’s disease who was immobile, another man who was blind, deaf and suffering from dementia and six women suffering from advanced dementia. Taylor told police that neither she nor any employees had training in the medical field.

In her interview with police, Taylor, the owner, said she bought the home from a registered nurse in 2018.

She told police she didn’t get the property registered as a group home, which would allow her to care for patients with advanced needs, because the fire department told her that getting the home up to code would cost $16,000. Instead, she registered it as an independent living facility.

“She admitted she was aware the residents needed a high level of care and admitted her business was not providing the care required,” police said in the report.

“When asked she stated she had never presented herself as a medical professional to the social workers at the hospital but had never told the social workers that the prior owner was no longer associated with the business and that (Taylor) was not a medical professional,” the report continued.

Cisneros told police he was not familiar with caring for patients who are immobile and was unsure of how often to change their positions to prevent bedsores. He said he usually moved patients once at the beginning and end of his shift.

Police redacted the location of the home in the report, and the secretary of state’s business licensing department had no record of the facility.

Cisneros was released without bail, and Taylor was released after posting bail. The two are scheduled to appear in court again Feb. 22.

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Tom Girardi’s Brother Robert Girardi Named Temporary Conservator After ‘RHOBH’ Star’s Medical Emergency

By Meredith Nardino
Erika Jayne‘s estranged husband, Tom Girardi, has been placed under a temporary conservatorship, with his brother Robert being appointed to take control of his daily activities and personal care on Monday, February 1.

During a hearing on Monday, February 1, Tom’s court-appointed attorney Rudy Cosio announced that the 81-year-old would not be participating as he’d suffered a medical emergency over the weekend. Robert filed a petition to the court earlier this month to be given control over both his brother and his brother’s estate amid his ongoing legal battle. Judge Daniel Juarez approved the petition in part and named Robert the temporary conservator of Tom’s estate and control over Tom’s daily activities and personal matters until March 30.

An additional hearing will take place on March 15, where the court will deliberate over the other requests in Robert’s petition. Tom’s brother also asked the court to give him the authority to place Tom in a facility that treats neurocognitive disorders such as dementia.

Tom Girardi. YouTube

“There was an urgent need for Bob Girardi to have the power to engage counsel in the bankruptcy proceeding on his brother’s behalf, and Tom’s court-appointed counsel clearly agreed, as did the court today,” Robert Girardi’s attorney Nicholas Van Brunt told Us Weekly in a statement.

According to court documents previously obtained by Us in January, Robert claimed that Tom was facing major health setbacks amid his divorce from Jayne, 49, and embezzlement scandal. Robert requested to be given control over his brother’s finances as “[Tom] is incapable of realizing and understanding the repercussions of the bankruptcy filings pending against him and the Debtor,” the docs stated.

News broke in November 2020 that the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star filed for divorce from the Colorado native after more than 20 years of marriage. One month later, class action firm Edelson PC accused the pair of faking their split to “fraudulently protect Tom and Erika’s money,” claiming that the pair were “on the verge of financial collapse.” The duo was also accused of embezzling $2 million in settlement funds intended to help the families of Lion Air Flight 610 victims.

Tom Girardi and Erika Jayne. Damian Dovarganes/AP/Shutterstock; Michael Simon/

As the legal drama continued, court documents obtained by Us in December 2020 revealed that Tom was secretly hospitalized for a “serious illness” weeks prior. Details of the health scare were not known at the time, but attorney Evan Jenness told a judge at the time that there were growing concerns over his client’s mental capacity.

“I’m unsure that he understands either the nature or the gravity of the current situation,” the lawyer told a judge in December, according to The Los Angeles Times. Jenness recommended at the time that Tom should undergo a mental examination as his assets were frozen by the court.

Us has reached out for further comment. While neither Jayne nor her estranged husband have spoken publicly about their legal woes, a source previously revealed that the Bravo star is “still in disbelief” about the situation.

“The legal issues are unfolding one after another and she’s learning as everyone’s filing,” the source told Us in December. “As the whole world is finding out about it, she’s finding out about it. She’s reading about it in the press before she even sees it [from her lawyers].”

According to another insider, the “Pretty Mess” singer plans to tell-all during the next season of RHOBH.

“Erika will address her divorce on the upcoming season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Legally, there is only so much she is allowed to say, but she has been advised on what she can put out there,” the source told Us of the 11th season of the reality show. “Viewers will also finally hear the other Housewives’ thoughts on Erika and Tom’s divorce.”

With reporting by Marjorie Hernandez 

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Two Mass. women arrested in $100 million home health care scam, federal prosecutors say

By Travis Andersen

Two Massachusetts women were arrested Sunday on federal charges alleging their involvement in a $100 million home health care fraud scheme in which vulnerable patients were used in a plot to bill for services that were never performed, among other criminal actions, prosecutors said Monday.

In a statement, US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office identified the defendants as Faith Newton, 52, of Westford, and Winnie Waruru, 41, of Lowell, and said the alleged scheme allowed Newton to purchase items including a Maserati and several homes, which the government is moving to seize in a separate civil action.

Raymond Sayeg, an attorney for Newton, said via e-mail that his client “denies the allegations contained in the Indictment and she intends to vigorously defend herself in this action.” A lawyer for Waruru declined to comment.

Both women were indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud; one count of health care fraud — aiding and abetting; and one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks. Newton was also indicted on one count of money laundering conspiracy and seven counts of money laundering, the statement said.

In addition, Lelling’s office said, Waruru was indicted on two counts of making false statements and one count of making a false statement in a health care matter. Both women were slated to make their initial appearances in federal court in Boston on Monday afternoon.

Details on the hearing weren’t immediately available.

Lelling’s office said the indictment alleges that from January 2013 to January 2017, Newton was part owner and operator of Arbor Homecare Services LLC, and Waruru was a licensed practical nurse, or LPN, employed by the company as a home health nurse.

Newton and Waruru, the statement said, allegedly plotted to use Arbor to defraud MassHealth and Medicare of at least $100 million by committing health care fraud and paying kickbacks to get patient referrals. Newton then allegedly laundered the illicit funds, according to the statement.

Prosecutors allege that Arbor, through Newton and others, failed to train staff; billed for services that were never provided, or that weren’t medically necessary; and billed for services that weren’t authorized.

Arbor, Lelling’s office said, through Newton and others, allegedly developed employment relationships as a way to pay kickbacks for patient referrals. They also allegedly entered sham employment relationships with patients’ relatives to provide home health aide services that weren’t medically necessary and routinely billed for fraudulent visits that Newton knew didn’t occur, according to the statement.

As alleged in the related civil complaint, the statement said, Newton, either directly or through Arbor, targeted vulnerable patients who were low-income, on disability, or suffering from depression or addiction.

Waruru and Arbor, the statement said, allegedly billed MassHealth for skilled nursing visits that she didn’t actually perform. Waruru also allegedly passed cash payments from Newton to an Arbor patient to retain that patient, according to prosecutors.

Newton allegedly used the laundered proceeds of “the $100 million scheme” to buy multiple homes and a luxury Maserati vehicle and to fund investment accounts, “a lavish lifestyle, and numerous financial transactions,” the statement said.

A related civil forfeiture case brought by the government seeks to compel Newton to forfeit to federal authorities five properties in Westford, North Andover, Chelmsford, and Dracut and to give up the contents of 40 bank accounts or investments, the statement said.

Both women face a possible prison term if convicted in connection with the case.

“The charges of health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and money laundering each provide for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the amount of the money involved in the laundering,” the statement said. “The conspiracy to pay kickbacks, make false statements, and make false statements in health care matters each provide for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.”

Sentences, Lelling’s office added, are imposed by a judge based on US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Community Bands Together to Rescue Elderly Woman Medically Kidnapped – The Life of a Senior is Still Precious to Some

A sheriff deputy in Vancouver, Clark County in Washington, grabs a woman by the throat and pushes her out of the hospital. She was attempting to go help her 74-year-old mother who was being detained against her will inside the hospital.

by Brian Shilhavy

In a week where it was reported that the New York State Attorney General admitted that nursing home deaths in New York State for 2020, already recorded as numbering tens of thousands, were undercounted by as much as 50% with Governor Andrew Cuomo reportedly stating “Who cares?”, and where numerous reports all over the world have recorded hundreds of seniors dying in assisted care facilities this week after the roll out of the experimental COVID mRNA injections, something truly amazing happened in Vancouver, Washington last night.

The people of the community, many members of “People’s Rights Washington,” turned out in mass to rescue a 74-year-old woman at Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital where she had been medically kidnapped, and was being held against her will, and against the will of her daughter who has medical power of attorney for her mother.

This group of 40-50 citizens, 90% of whom were women (mothers) and their children, stared down an army dispatched from the Clark County Sheriff’s department in full riot gear, endured being grabbed by the throat and pepper sprayed, and refused to leave the hospital until 74-year-old Gayle Meyer was released back into the custody of her daughter, Satin.

Satin took her mother to the hospital the night before to get treatment for a urinary tract infection (UTI), and had been with her until 4 a.m. before returning home to get a few hours of sleep before heading back to the hospital the next day.

Their primary care physician had already written a prescription for an antibiotic, and Gayle was supposed to be released and sent home with her daughter, who is also her medical power of attorney.

But when Satin arrived at the hospital, she was told that not only could she not take her mother home, but that she could not even see her mother, because she refused to take a COVID test.

That’s when Satin called her friends, who responded by heading to the hospital to find out what was going on. The nursing staff allegedly changed their story a few times, first saying that Gayle had refused to take a COVID test and was therefore being quarantined, but then later allegedly changing their story and stating that Gayle did in fact take a COVID test, and had to remain in the hospital for at least 24 hours until the results of the test came back.

Her daughter Satin, who had been in the hospital with her mother the day before until 4 a.m., had made it clear that her mother did not need nor want a COVID test, since she only had a UTI and was only in the hospital to be put on fluids.

The nurses allegedly also stated to Satin that they had also put her mother on oxygen, which greatly surprised Satin and her friends who were now showing up at the hospital to support her and her mother. Her mother, Gayle, allegedly has never before had to be put on oxygen, and certainly a UTI does not warrant oxygen.

As we have documented many times since COVID started last year, many deaths blamed on COVID in fact are caused by improper treatment, especially when a patient is intubated and put on a ventilator, where the death rate is over 90%.

Obviously becoming very concerned at this point that her mother who had a simple UTI was now being medically kidnapped and forced to stay in the hospital against her will and receive treatments she did not want, Satin and her friends called the County Sheriff office to come and assist them get Gayle out of the hospital.

The woman who filmed the entire ordeal, Kelli Stewart, explained that she had spoken to the Sheriff dispatcher, and she was told that the Sheriff was not going to respond and get involved.

However, as they were talking, the dispatcher allegedly stated that now the hospital had also called, so they were sending officers to the scene.

As you will see in the video below, the Sheriff deputies and officers were there to protect the hospital and Big Pharma, and NOT to represent their constituents and fulfill their oath of office to protect their constituents, and in this case, to prevent a medical kidnapping.

In fact, at one point Satin attempts to enter the hospital behind another patient who was entering, and an officer grabs her by the throat, and pushes her back.

The officer then used pepper spray on the people who were standing outside, who were all unarmed and primarily women and children.

Everything was captured on video, and I have watched the entire 2 hours of film footage, and condensed it down to under 53 minutes. This is from our Rumble account, and it is also available on our Bitchute Channel, and our account.

If you want to watch the raw footage of everything as it unfolded, you can watch it on the Ammon Bundy YouTube channel, here and here. (We have copies if they disappear.)

Interestingly, as I watched the entire two hours of footage, the word “vaccine” never came up once. It was also shocking to see the Sheriff deputy use pepper spray on innocent people. A man was sprayed in the mouth with it, and he spit it out, but it also spread to the others around him, including some children.

And yet one local CBS Corporate Media outlet described the events of last night quite differently:

‘Anti-vax’ protest sparks lockdown at ClarkCo hospital

A hospital in the Salmon Creek neighborhood of Clark County went into lockdown on Friday night after a group of “exceptionally unreasonable” people demanded the release of a patient, authorities said.

Deputies with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office were called to Legacy Salmon Creek at about 6:30 p.m. after a group of 30 to 40 people gathered outside the hospital. Deputies said the group was there to support a person who had a family member being treated at the hospital and they wanted that person released.

The sheriff’s office said the group consisted of “exceptionally unreasonable” people who were “anti-vaxxer, anti-science types” who live-streamed the incident on social media.

A spokesperson at Legacy Salmon Creek told KOIN 6 News around 8:30 p.m. that the hospital was in a so-called “silver lockdown” and no one was being allowed in but people inside were permitted to leave.

Deputies said they protected the hospital and worked to have the patient — a woman — released. No arrests were made and deputies did not resort to any crowd control measures; however, they said a small scuffle broke out when the hospital went into lockdown.

The group of people tried to enter the hospital through the emergency room entrance and someone in the crowd used pepper spray.

The patient was eventually released and the crowd dispersed at around 9:15 p.m., deputies said. (Source.)

This event clearly illustrates several important truths (besides the obvious fact that you cannot trust the Pharma-controlled corporate media).

First, the people who turned out to stand up for the rights of 74-year-old Gayle Meyer clearly shows that there are still some people left in this country who value human life, including the precious lives of our senior population.

These friends and advocates probably saved her life, because hospitals today are incentivized to treat COVID patients, and if they get them onto ventilators they receive even more COVID medical funding.

Secondly, this event also illustrates that law enforcement will almost always side with the medical tyrants and the medical industrial complex over the individual rights of the patients.

Having covered the issue of Medical Kidnapping for over 6 years now, I can personally vouch for the fact that this is almost always the case.

But perhaps the most important lesson this event teaches us, is the fact that when a community decides to act together to oppose the medical tyrants, those tyrants fear them, and their medical tyranny can be resisted.

When the People Fear the Government There is Tyranny, but When Government Fears the People There is Liberty

As Kelli Stewart mentioned several times while filming all of this, this was a real wake-up call for those who thought the “men in blue” were on our side. She mentioned how those on the other side of the political spectrum have decried the abuses of law enforcement for decades now, and it just took a little longer for those on the “Right” side politically to see the same thing.

This gives me great hope, because as I have been writing ever since COVID and medical tyranny took over this country, this is NOT a “Right” versus “Left,” Republicans versus Democrats problem.

This is an issue of We the People against the Wall Street Billionaires and Central Bankers who control BOTH sides of the political spectrum, and if we can unite together as We the People to fight this medical tyranny, then we can begin to win our country back.

And that is what they fear the most.

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Former Calvert County Attorney Pleads Guilty to Felony Theft Scheme

Craig Langrall, 41
PRINCE FREDERICK, Md. - On January 25, 2021, Craig Langrall, age 41, of Tracy’s Landing, Maryland, entered a guilty plea in the Circuit Court for Calvert County to felony theft scheme over $25,000.  The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and/or a $15,000 fine.  Sentencing is scheduled for March 12, 2021.

Langrall was a practicing attorney in Calvert County and was hired by the victim to represent him in a family law matter.  In the course of the legal representation, Langrall received a check that was payable to the victim and deposited the check into Langrall’s client trust fund.  However, instead of holding the funds in the account for his client’s use, Langrall, over the course of several months, spent the entire $40,000 on personal items.

When the victim requested the funds, Langrall was unable to provide the money.  After the victim made numerous attempts to recoup his money, a referral to the State’s Attorney’s Office was made, and the investigation and criminal prosecution was initiated.  Langrall was also disbarred by the Maryland Court of Appeals.

The prosecution is being handled by Assistant State’s Attorney, Benjamin G. Lerner.

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Older adults being bilked in purported romances

Photo by Eugeniyo Belova
by Tom Jackson
SANDUSKY — Older adults in Erie County are being taken advantage in romance scams, online relationships that result in local residents losing large amounts of money.

“Once they start asking for money, this is where they should be aware,” said Sue Daugherty, executive director of Serving Our Seniors. “They should check out this person.”

“We have victims who have been bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said.

Usually by the time the victim realizes something might be wrong and finally talks to a relative or friend, “it’s too late. That’s when we get the call,” Sigsworth said. 

The frauds are often perpetrated on older people who meet others through a dating site, Daugherty said.

It appears to be common not to discuss the relationship with anybody, Daugherty said. The situation sometimes does not become known until a banker notices large amounts of money are leaving an account, Daugherty said.

“They never actually meet the individual person,” Sigsworth said. “In a lot of these cases, the victim has never met the individual in person, and they probably never will.”

“I would suggest any time you do this, you need to talk to them and meet them in person,” Sigsworth said.

And when you meet them, meet in a public place and have someone with you, he said.

“It’s so heartbreaking because a lot of these persons are widows and widowers,” said Dan McLaughlin, elder abuse investigator for the Erie County prosecutor.

Somebody will build an online relationship with the victim, and then ask for money, using a good story. It might be a family member who supposedly needs surgery or a car that has broken down and needs repairs.

A lot of times, where the money is being sent is a clue something is wrong. It should not be sent to a company or an agency if it’s supposed to be sent to a person.

If somebody asks for money, even if it is apparently for a good reason, take a day or two to decide. Talk to a trusted friend or a family member and get a second opinion, McLaughlin said.

Or call Serving Our Seniors, or McLaughlin at the county prosecutor’s office, he suggested.

“Somebody’s calling and asking for $5,000 and you don’t feel right, give me a call,” he said.

McLaughlin became a special investigator for elder financial abuse cases in 2018.

During 2020, he received 41 calls on possible financial exploitation in Erie County, 27 for elderly women and 14 for elderly men. Four cases became the focus of a criminal investigation, although ultimately it was determined there was not enough evidence for a prosecution. 

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Monday, February 1, 2021

Man wanted on elder abuse charges, accused of tying up boarding home resident

By Jessica Willey
An unlicensed caretaker is accused of using a bungee-type cord to restrain a 65-year-old for hours, according to court documents.
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston police are searching for an unlicensed caretaker accused of tying a boarding home resident to a chair so tightly it caused an infection that caused his death.

John Grant, 56, is charged with injury to an elderly individual.

According to court documents, he physically abused 65-year-old Clifton Barber in May 2020 at an unlicensed boarding home in the 5800 block of Schevers in southeast Houston.
After Barber got sick, another unlicensed caretaker took him to Ben Taub Hospital, where he died.

"I was in the room when he passed away," said Farrell Gotch, Barber's brother. "His arm was swollen and his leg was swollen. He was abused."

An autopsy report showed Barber had injuries that were consistent with being tied at his wrists, as well as blunt force injuries. The report says Barber ultimately died from sepsis from an infection on his wrist.

"He tied him down basically so hard, an infection occurred in his wrist and spread throughout his blood ultimately causing his death," explained Kristina Roberts, chief prosecutor of elder abuse and financial exploitation at the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

"That's sad. It's inhumane. It's not even conscionable," said Gotch.

The unlicensed caretaker, who took Barber to the hospital, told authorities Barber was not feeling well a few days before his passing and recalled seeing "a bump, which appeared like a tiny bite mark on Barber's forearm." He said another person by the name of "John" resided at the unlicensed boarding home.

Several months later, after 35 men and women were found without food or medication in another unlicensed boarding home in Houston's south side. Deputies there detained a man by the name of John Grant.
Investigators say one of the men rescued from that home identified Grant after he said he knew Barber from living with him at the previous unlicensed boarding home. That man told investigators a week before Barber's death that he witnessed Grant use a bungee-type cord to tie and restrain Barber to a chair "from midday to sunset as punishment," according to court records.

Roberts says there's a warrant out for Grant's arrest. If convicted, he could face between five and 99 years in prison.

"I would like justice for him. He would harm no one," Gotch said of his brother.

Unlicensed group homes are on the rise in Harris County because it is an area that is not regulated properly, Roberts said.

"Hopefully this case and situations like this will make people more and more aware of it," she said.

People considering a boarding home for a family member or loved one should do research and visit the home before making any decisions, advised Roberts. She also said to report any abnormalities or signs of abuse to authorities.
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Paterson judge Cecilia Sardina Guzman was ineligible to serve on municipal court, says complaint

by Jayed Rahman

Municipal court judge Cecilia Sardina Guzman, who was disciplined last year for misconduct, was ineligible to serve, according to a complaint filed by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct.

Guzman was censured by the Disciplinary Review Board of the Supreme Court of New Jersey last September for gross neglect, lack of diligence, failure to communicate with client, negligent misappropriation of client funds, failure to abide by recordkeeping provisions, failure to withdraw from representation and refund unearned fees after discharged by client, and unauthorized practice of law by failing to maintain professional liability insurance while practicing as a limited liability company.

Guzman was ineligible to practice law from October 22, 2018 through October 17, 2019 because she failed to maintain an interest-bearing trust account to hold the funds and deposits of clients, according to the complaint filed on January 13. A New Jersey Supreme Court order requires attorneys to maintain such accounts or face being put on a list that renders them ineligible to practice law.

Guzman was placed on that list for failing to comply despite three written requests, according to the complaint. Guzman continued to represent clients and serve as judge in Paterson and Dover despite being ineligible to practice law.

She corrected the issued and submitted proper registration on October 17, 2019. She submitted a certification to the New Jersey Supreme Court admitting she failed to comply with the requirements of the IOLTA program on July 24, 2020.

The complaint says by serving as judge in Paterson and Dover municipal courts from October 22, 2018 through October 17, 2019, Guzman violated three rules – one that states a judge has to participate in “establishing, maintaining and enforcing, and shall personally observe, high standards of conduct so that the integrity, impartiality and independence of the judiciary is preserved” and another that states a judge has to “respect and comply with the law” and another that states a judge has to promote public confidence in the judiciary — in the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Guzman could not be reached for comments on Wednesday. Her office phone number states it’s out of service.

Guzman was appointed to the municipal court by former mayor Jose “Joey” Torres in 2014.

She remains as a judge at the Paterson municipal court, says the complaint.

Mayor Andre Sayegh did not respond to a message asking whether he intends to call for her resignation.
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